Jane Austen was a rural parson’s daughter with no formal education and yet her book ‘Pride and Prejudice’ remains one of the best loved novels in the English language since its first appearance over two hundred years ago.

The brilliantly adapted TV version by Andrew Davies in 2005 and a film version that followed brought to life this wonderful story for a whole new generation with even a sequel shown over the Christmas holidays.

You can almost see the sparks fly as you read of the spirited Elizabeth Bennett meeting the proud Mr Darcy who reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman he one time considered beneath his class. Did they deal with their pride and prejudice? Well read the book and find out.

Prejudice in whatever form is destructive and brings out the worst emotions. Religious prejudice especially has and continues to cause untold misery and suffering and is blinded to the truth that all the world religions are based on respect for human life under the fatherhood of God.

This new year sees a world more fragile with parts of the middle east dominated by forces where tolerance and understanding are quashed with unspeakable cruelty which is an affront to the very nature and character of God.

Jesus taught us to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. He bridged the gulf that existed between the religious factions and firmly condemned the pride and religious arrogance that existed in his day. Long held attitudes which had enslaved the most vulnerable and poorest were challenged and condemned when he told the religious zealots not to look at the speck in the eyes of others when there was a massive plank in their own.

As Paul the Apostle proclaimed. ‘Jesus has broken down the dividing walls of hostility’ and we must never, ever, build them up again.

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